Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Small Readers: Written and drawn by Henrietta: A toon book by Liniers

This is a stunning work of graphic art. But is it a good easy reader?

Henrietta has a new box of colored pencils and she's going to tell a story. With asides to and with her cat Fellini, she explains the process she goes through, writing and drawing her story of monsters, hats, and messy closets.

The art includes both panels that showcase Liniers' simple lines and muted colors as well as splashy colors and exuberant drawings that show Henrietta's work. Henrietta's art is presumably drawn with colored pencils, as introduced at the front of the books. The speech bubbles for the child's art are drawn with the same splashy, sketchy vivid colored pencil work as the art itself.

This is a level 3 Toon book. Toon's level 3 is intended for "advanced beginners" and one of the things it encourages is that a "reader needs to make connections and speculate." Maybe because I've been focusing on very beginning readers for a while, but while I can see the artistry in this book and admire the seamless storytelling on multiple levels, it just didn't strike me as a good book for a beginning reader, who is still trying to decode language. In addition to the challenge of reading itself, the reader has to follow two different storylines, one drawn in a handwritten font that didn't seem easy to read at all to my eyes.

Verdict: Readers who excel and are moving seamlessly into chapter books will probably no problem with this unique story. However, sometimes it seems like I only ever get requests for struggling or poor readers and the "good" readers are thin on the ground. This was an artistically beautiful book, but ultimately I didn't feel like it really had much of a story to offer and didn't fulfill what I need from easy readers for my patrons.

ISBN: 9781935179900; Published 2015 by TOON; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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